Thursday, May 24, 2012

DIY Liquid Laundry Soap

For the past two months, I've been using homemade powdered laundry detergent for my warm loads (towels, sheets), but this weekend I decided to take the plunge and made a liquid laundry soap for other loads.  I found and adapted the recipe from The Family Homestead.

Why do this?  It's simple and cost-effective.  Depending on the cost of supplies in your area, you could potentially make a year's supply of laundry soap for about $10.

The Winco in my area carries all the supplies except the bucket.

  • 5 gallon bucket + lid
  • 1 bar Fels-Naptha soap
  • 1.5 c. washing soda (not baking soda)
  • 1.5 c. borax
  • water
  • 5 gallon bucket + lid -- $5
  • Fels-Naptha soap -- $1
  • Washing Soda -- $2.50 for 5 pounds (which is way more than you need)
  • Borax -- $7 for a 5 pound box (also way more than you need)

First, grate the bar of soap as finely as possible.

I used the food processor to grate and then put in the blades to get the soap into a powdery consistency (although this last step is not necessary for the liquid).
Please note: if you use a food processor then make sure you thoroughly rinse it before sticking it in the dishwasher or you'll get lots of suds!

Second, using a large pot, mix the soap, borax, and washing soda with 12 cups of water.  Heat and stir until dissolved.

Third, place 10 cups of warm water in your bucket.  Add the soap mixture and blend together.  Add two gallons plus ten cups additional water.

Your bucket should be nearly full.

Last, label your bucket, attach a 1/2 cup scoop, and you're done!  Use 1/2 cup per load.

The verdict: It smells clean.  In fact, my whole kitchen smelled like Dial bar soap when I was making this (which is not surprising, since Fels-Naptha is a Dial product).  I like that smell because it reminds me of my grandmother.  The soap itself is gel-ish, the laundry smells clean,so I'm satisfied.  Honey is skeptical, so we've agreed not to use this on work clothes until I prove that it doesn't fade colors.

Don't know where to get washing soda in your area?  Apparently you can make your own!

Of course now that I have this year's supply my sister told me about soap nuts.  They sound even easier than this and her friend gives them rave reviews, so perhaps that will be my next step on the path to Hippieville.

Life is what happens while you're making other plans

I had big plans for this year, for this blog, for many things.  Now I find myself staring June in the face and wondering where the time goes.  It is very easy for me to get wrapped up in the daily grind and before I know it a week, or a month, has flown by and I have no idea where it went.  It's hard for me to admit, especially because I like to be thought of as competent, engaged, organized, but time management is not my strength.  In fact, I was just discussing this with Thin Man last night.  How is it that some days one's list can be three miles long with 597 things to-do and that manages to get done (or mostly done) and other days only have a handful of items on the list and yet by the end of the day few are checked off?  It's a mystery.

My intention was, at the beginning of this year, to write a blog post nearly every day.  Obviously that didn't happen, so I am going to accept that and move on.  Instead of crying over spilled milk, I've decided that this blog post will be about what's happened this year and what I plan to do with the rest of the year.  While I highly doubt I will remember most things that have happened (unless they were somehow momentous), perhaps this record will be good motivation.

January 2012: Floods and illness.

Our year started with our dog, Lotus, having part of her tail amputated.  Who knew that there was such a thing as "happy tail" and that it was truly dangerous for dogs? I certainly didn't!

Lotus has a strong tail and she's always wagging it.  She wagged really hard one day and broke it by hitting it against the corner of a wall.  Because the broken area was so close to the tip (about 2" away), even though we gave it protection and medication, it just wouldn't heal -- the doctor said the blood flow couldn't reach it.  So off the tip came.  Thankfully it looks normal now -- our vet did a nice job!

We created this tail splint using foam pipe cover and athletic tape.
It allowed airflow to the healing wound without letting the dog lick it.

In the middle of January, our house flooded.  Again.  This happens every couple years due to the incredible amount of rain we get over the course of a few days.  The ground can't absorb everything and so the water (and dirt and grime) finds a way inside.

Thankfully this time we caught the flood in the basement within an hour of when it first started and with the help of Honey, Thin Man, and the sump pumps we bought last time, it was cleaned up by the end of the day.
Thin Man was not too happy about pictures during the flood.
But his idea to use the wet/dry shop vac to clean up the water was a great one!
Less than a week later, I was at the vet with Nicky.  He was not doing well and had lost weight very rapidly (over the course of just a few days).  The vet told us that he had acute kidney failure, and after two days of staying at the vet's trying to get his system to improve, I brought my little Chunky Monkey home, knowing that the prognosis was he would not survive the week.
We were very blessed -- Nicky managed to hang on until March 1.  Caring for him was like caring for a dying relative -- it took time and energy but I was thankful for the time we had together.

February 2012, A New Work Life
This year brought with it a new career opportunity.  I am trying to be an entrepreneur.  If I'm really honest then I must admit that I have no idea what I'm doing.  For me, holding a job, a "real job," is easy -- you know what to do and when to do it.  No problem!  But figuring out how to work on one's own -- and how to sell a business to clients -- is hard, especially for this introvert.

So what is this business and job?  It's called The Black Brand and I work as a developer of Your Brand of Educating.  The woman, Jan, who had this brain child, is someone I met through my work at the university, so I've known her for a couple years.  Last August I helped her run a two-day professional development seminar for teachers (called a Brand Build) and we discovered we worked well together.  That was around the time my job at the university dried up, so I started working with her -- unpaid -- on a few things to see if we could get a business going (and in the meantime I searched for a job).  In January we made it more formal, but without a steady stream of clients there is no current income.  (This week we're hoping to change that by adding another school to our roster of clients, so fingers crossed!)  We've done a number of teacher in-services and professional development seminars and we're hoping to do more.  This is something I believe in -- I just don't always know how to start and run a business, especially if I am working with someone else. It is a learning process, but this week two books (The Lean Startup and The Fire Starter Sessions) I ordered arrived and I am excited about reading them and learning more about being a successful entrepreneur!

March 2012, Saying Goodbye, Saying Hello
March 1, 2012, was the day Nicky passed away.  I was devastated.  And it took me a while to recover.  Of course part of the path to recovery includes finding the baby that will fill the hole in my heart, and so in mid-March we brought Aiko home from the shelter.

She is an amazing kitty -- although I should've realized that an Ides of March baby would have issues.  We've finally, after two months, solved her health issues...I think.

In March we also had a freak snowstorm.  The weather's been a bit crazy the past two years and it make me worry about the garden, but there's not much to be done about it.

At the end of March I participated in a two-day retreat (of a sort) for women as the start of a year-long participation in a Women's Circle.  It was amazing and I am so happy to be a part of it because it's helping to heal my heart that has been broken by women in my life.  I have some serious issues, many stemming from the relationship with Crazymaker and the Cougar that was supposed to be my best friend, so learning how to trust and interact with women in a positive way and to feel that support system has been amazing.

April 2012, A Blurry Month
Most of this month consisted of a weekend trip to visit my sister and her family in CA, getting the garden ready, celebrating a graduation, and work.  Fun times.

May 2012, Spring has Sprung
We decided this year that we would put some serious work into our garden space.  We use a large plot of land (1/3 or 1/2 acre I think) a few miles from our house to garden.  Although our yard is about 2/3 of an acre, it's on a very steep hill and the ground was neglected for years before we bought it, so the soil doesn't really like growing vegetables.  Instead, at my house, I grow tomatoes, peppers, and a few other things in pots on my porch and patio.

This will be our third summer at our garden space, and while it's a bit inconvenient to drive ten minutes to get there, we are thankful for the opportunity to use this space.  We've been slowly working on it, but the weeds had control last year and so this year we stepped into high gear and decided to fix that issue by spreading ground cloth and barkdust on the permanent installations.  Over a week of working in the garden every evening after the work day resulted in some beautiful grapes and blueberries.

We still have some more work to do, but it's getting close and we're hoping to be done by the end of the month.  Then it's just a matter of maintainance!

I also learned how to knit this month!  And it may look silly with giant needles and really thick yarn, but it's very satisfying to be able to whip a scarf out in an evening.

Of course I only know one stitch, but it's a start! And I've made about six scarves and have started two different car seat/stroller blankets.

This recap does not include weddings, babies and baby showers, graduations, counseling former students, and other bits of life.  There is always too much to recount, to remember, and to do.  But at least it's a glimpse into the first half (or near-half) of the year.

My goals for the rest of the year are numerous, but I'll write the important ones here:

  • Submit at least two academic articles for publication.
  • Recruit at least two additional clients for YBOE (so at least a total of four schools or four Brand Builds).
  • Gardening and canning
  • Embracing the tasks and the learning that accompany the Women's Circle.
  • Learn at least one more knitting stitch.
  • Submit children's books to a publisher.
  • Finish novel.
  • Participate in the Creating Success Around the World blog hop in June.
  • Officiate at a wedding in July.
  • Participate more frequently in my online book group.
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